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Rio de Janeiro Olympics Athletics Day Five Japanese Results

by Brett Larner

20-year-old Miyuki Uehara (Team Daiichi Seimei) became only the second Japanese woman ever to qualify for an Olympic 5000 m final, boldly fruntrunning her heat to make it through on the fifth day of athletics competition at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Just 6th at June's National Championships, her 15:21.40 PB was enough to put her on the Olympic team over three athletes ahead of her without the Olympic standard.  Pre-race her coach Sachiko Yamashita, the 1991 Tokyo World Championships marathon silver medalist and 1992 Barcelona Olympics marathon 4th-placer, told her simply, "Be aggressive."  Uehara took that to heart.

Rocketing out at sub-15 pace close to the Japanese national record while the rest of the field completely ignored her, she quickly had a lead of at least 50 m. It's been relatively common in recent years to see Japanese runners frontrun on the track at world-level championships but rarely so dramatically.  Leading past 3000 m without ever looking back Uehara was inevitably caught late in the race, but where the field has always sailed by Japanese runners in her position she repeatedly surged to stay with it.  7th in 15:23.41 just two seconds off her PB she unexpectedly made it through to the final on time.  The only other time a Japanese woman has ever made it, Michiko Shimizu in Atlanta, Uehara was eight months old.  "I wanted to be assertive," she said post-race.  "I didn't pay any attention to what was going on behind me."

Four-time national champion Misaki Onishi and all-time Japanese #5 Ayuko Suzuki both ran in the second 5000 m heat.  Suffering a recent injury that kept her out of the 10000 m, Suzuki was clearly not her regular self, leading the first 1000 m at a conservative 3:07 before sliding back toward the rear of the pack where she finished.  Onishi ran up to expectations, staying in the middle of the field and finishing 9th in 15:29.17 out of contention for the final. But Uehara was the revelation of the day.  In the last year or so she ran the fastest-ever Japanese women's road 5 km outside Japan at the Carlsbad 5000, ran a 10000 m PB at Payton Jordan, and scored the best-ever Japanese placing at the Bolder Boulder 10 km when she took 2nd.  The message seems clear but is one almost entirely lost on the collective mind of the Japanese corporate system: when you race seriously overseas it prepares you to race seriously overseas when you really need to.

There is a lot of hope for the future of Japanese men's sprinting, but in the 200 m realization of that hope was not to be found.  All-time Japanese #2 Shota Iizuka (Mizuno), #3 Kenji Fujimitsu (Zenrin) and #4 Kei Takase (Team Fujitsu) all got stopped in the opening round despite being ranked near the tops of their heats.  400 m hurdles national champion Keisuke Nozawa (Mizuno) was likewise eliminated in the semi-final, in 2nd until the last hurdle but dropping to 6th.  Women's long jump national champion Konomi Kai (Volver) and women's javelin national record holder Yuki Ebihara (Suzuki Hamamatsu AC) were both far from their bests, finishing near the bottom of their events in the qualification round and missing out on their finals.

Rio de Janeiro Olympics
Aug. 16, 2016
click here for complete results

Men's 200 m Heat Three +0.3 m/s
1. Salem Eid Yaqoob (Bahrain) - 20.19 - Q, NR
2. Ramil Guliyev (Turkey) - 20.23 - Q
3. Aaron Brown (Canada) - 20.23
-----
4. Shota Iizuka (Japan) - 20.49

Men's 200 m Heat Five -1.5 m/s
1. Justin Gatlin (U.S.A.) - 20.42 - Q
2. Matteo Galvan (Italy) - 20.58 - Q
3. Ramon Gittens (Barbados) - 20.58
-----
6. Kenji Fujimitsu (Japan) - 20.86

Men's 200 m Heat Nine +0.6 m/s
1. Usain Bolt (Jamaica) - 20.28 - Q
2. Ejowvokogene Oduduru (Nigeria) - 20.34 - Q
3. Solomon Bockarie (Netherlands) - 20.42
-----
6. Kei Takase (Japan) - 20.71

Women's 5000 m Heat One
1. Hellen Onsando Obiri (Kenya) - 15:19.38 - Q
2. Yasemin Can (Turkey) - 15:19.50 - Q
3. Mercy Cherono (Kenya) - 15:19.56 - Q
4. Shelby Houlihan (U.S.A.) - 15:19.76 - Q
5. Susan Kuijken (Netherlands) - 15:19.96 Q
-----
7. Miyuki Uehara (Japan) - 15:23.41 - q

Women's 5000 m Heat Two
1. Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) - 15:04.35 - Q
2. Senbere Teferi (Ethiopia) - 15:17.43 - Q
3. Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot (Kenya) - 15:17.74 - Q
4. Karoline Bjerkeli Grovdal (Norway) - 15:17.83 - Q
5. Eilish McColgan (Great Britain) - 15:18.20 - Q
-----
9. Misaki Onishi (Japan) - 15:29.17
12. Ayuko Suzuki (Japan) - 15:41.81

Men's 400 m Hurdles Semi-Final One
1. Kerron Clement (U.S.A.) - 48.26 - Q
2. Boniface Mucheru Tumuti (Kenya) - 48.84 - Q
3. Sergio Fernandez (Spain) - 48.87
-----
6. Keisuke Nozawa (Japan) - 49.20

Women's Long Jump Qualification Group B
1. Brittney Reese (U.S.A.) - 6.78 m -0.1 m/s - Q
2. Ksenija Balta (Estonia) - 6.71 m +0.0 m/s - q
3. Ese Brume (Nigeria) - 6.67 m -0.1 m/s - q
-----
19. Konomi Kai (Japan) - 5.87 m +0.3 m/s

Women's Javelin Throw Qualification Group B
1. Maria Andrejczyk (Poland) - 67.11 m - Q, NR
2. Barbora Spotakova (Czech Republic) - 64.65 - Q
3. Linda Stahl (Germany) - 63.95 m - Q
-----
10. Yuki Ebihara (Japan) - 57.68 m

© 2016 Brett Larner
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